Oct 17, 2012

Content With Intent: The Intersection of PR & Content Marketing

A map of an ‘optimized content plan’ from Lee Odden.

A few weeks back I attended Content Marketing World in Columbus OH, where many marketing pro’s gathered to share, discuss and try to put some structure around the phrase “Content Marketing.”  For me, as CMWorld progressed and I attended sessions one thing became clear — really good listeners will never run out of very relevant and engaging content.

Lee Odden (@leeodden) CEO of TopRank Online Marketing stood up today in front of a standing-room only crowd of 150+ at the PRSA International Conference in San Francisco to speak about Content Marketing and Public Relations. The two subjects rely directly on listening and taking appropriate action to earn results.  And the PR executives in attendance were ready to hear being more “intentional” with the content they create.

Lee’s conversation started by pointing out that PR Execs far too often have the “spray and pray” approach to content.  As a colleague recently blogged: “ It’s not unusual for a PR campaign to still operate on the “Ready, aim, fire” principle.”

http://blog.prnewswire.com/2012/09/13/how-to-amplify-messages-by-cultivating-audiences-influencer-relationships/

As Lee discussed how people view him as a PR professional at marketing conferences and as a marketing professional at PR conferences, my mind wondered to the day to day struggles of our clients and the pains many of them have as a result of PR and Marketing often not sharing budget, strategy and concept.  They, therefore often have the “spray and pray” mentality.  Simply said, many companies allow convenience and timeliness to win over intentional actions to inspire advocacy through content.

I snapped back to Lee’s presentation as he said three words “Create, Demand and Dominate.”  Lee stated that any content marketing plan needs to pertain directly to creating, demanding and dominating search results.  To Lee, SEO plays a direct role in being intentional about content.  Lee’s “Optimized and Socialized Content Plan” consists of 5 pillars: Awareness – Consideration – Purchase – Retention – Advocacy

Lee pointed to online search as being “an explicit indiction of intent.  It’s about the audience being present.   It is obvious that content drives social sharing and discovery, as 73% of social media shares have links in them.”

As I though about that statement I found myself concerned for many of our clients who maintained that “spray and pray” mentality with their content.  We are now in an environment where consumers and targeted audiences are being intentional with what they are looking for, yet many organizations still don’t have a plan in place to inspire the advocacy through the content that the audience is yearning for.

Lee gave the example of press releases and how many PR pros do “one off” releases without a sequential plan around the content and having a plan around the initiative that encompasses listening, creating, engaging, monitoring and reacting.

“PR professionals don’t often take a step back and make the best or most effective use of (a situation, opportunity or resource),” Lee noted. Ironically that is the direct definition of the word “Optimize,” which is also the name of the recent book Lee authored.

After Lee reminded me of Alec Baldwin’s “Always Be Closing” scene in GlenGary Glen Ross, when Lee stated “Always Be Optimizing” (Sorry… Still a sales guy writing this)… I gathered my things and started to walk out of the room.  Much like my departure from all the sessions that I attended at Content Marketing World, I’ve once again found myself excited and optimistic about content marketing and it’s role in PR.  As I walked out of the room I noticed about 50% of the people in the audience had filed up to the front towards Lee to ask him further questions.   I’m confident that their questions were well thought out and intentional after sitting through Lee’s session.  After all, PR Professionals are always thought of as the best listeners.

Author Bill Dube oversees sales in the western region of the US for PR Newswire.

Before you map your content plan, you need to know what topics really generate traction with your audiences.  Listening is how you garner this intelligence. For additional ideas on how listening can make PR more effective, read our free white paper, Active Listening: The Key to PR Relevance & Results.

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